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Stevenage-Tottenham Results: Another Example of the Romance of the FA Cup

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19:  Lawrie Wilson of Stevenage (L) shields the ball from Danny Rose of Tottenham during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Stevenage and Tottenham Hotspur at The Lamex Stadium on February 19, 2012 in Stevenage, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Frank WagnerCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2012

On the surface, the FA Cup clash between Stevenage and Tottenham may have been a bit dull.

After all, the match featured no goals (well, that were legal, anyway) and few chances.

However, the improbable nature of the contest made this tame affair breathtaking.

Of the 10 clubs remaining in the FA Cup, seven ply their trade in the Premier League; of them, Tottenham currently lies highest in the table with the most goals scored.

Of the three that are not in the Premiership, two play in the Championship.

The one outsider is Stevenage, who play in League One (the third tier of English football).

The club's history makes the position in which they find themselves in the FA Cup seem even more incredible.

After the 1995-96 season, Stevenage won the Conference National, the fifth tier of football, but were denied promotion to League football because of inadequate ground facilities.

They finally gained promotion to League football for the first time in the 2009-10 season; that's right, this club was still lingering in the fifth division of English football just two seasons ago.

Their rise has been quick; they won promotion from League Two in their first season through a playoff, and they currently sit firmly in a position to win a spot in a playoff in League One this season.

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19:  A general view of Stevenage fans during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Stevenage and Tottenham Hotspur at The Lamex Stadium on February 19, 2012 in Stevenage, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Stevenage's grounds, Broadway Hall, has a capacity of just 7,000 (a little under this amount were in attendance for their match today), a number less than a fourth of the capacity of the grounds of any of the other clubs still in contention for this season's FA Cup.

In fact, Tottenham, today's opponents, used to use their grounds for reserve team matches.

And yet, Stevenage was able to kill the momentum of Harry Redknapp, the most charmed man in England at the moment (gets off for tax evasion, front-runner for England manager job, leads squad in one of best seasons in club history): they bravely fended off Tottenham's high-priced and potent striking unit for 90 minutes today, even twice coming close themselves from booking a shocking place in the quarterfinals.

Instead, they find themselves in a replay at White Hart Lane, an incredibly lucrative endeavor for such a club.

That's the beauty of the FA Cup—in what other sporting competition could you see two such clubs play each other?

In comparison, imagine the Boston Red Sox in a single elimination tournament and playing the Trenton Thunder in Trenton, not winning the game, and having to play them again in Fenway Park; that's just about what is going on in the FA Cup (and this isn't even close to the biggest fairy-tale run in the tournament's history).

Tottenham supporters, you may be disappointed and aggravated that the Spurs aren't yet in the quarterfinals, but you have to appreciate the heart-warming tales the FA Cup spins.

Let's give it up for this year's Cinderella.

Now, may it strike midnight at the Lane.

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